8 Oct 2016

Review: The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi

Goodreads synopsis:

When the three Grace children -- Mallory, Jared, and Simon -- and their mom move into Aunt Lucinda's old house, readers know there's magic afoot. The kids uncover a nest of assembled junk, and on a visit to the secret library via the dumbwaiter, Jared finds a note describing "my secret to all mankind." After a few mysterious pranks that get blamed on Jared, the boy finally digs up the real prize: Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You. Fortunately enough, the kids meet one of the critters listed in the guide -- a brownie named Thimbletack -- who makes it all "real" and helps provide the book's suspenseful conclusion: "'Throw the book away, toss it in a fire. If you do not heed, you will draw their ire.'"

My experience with The Spiderwick Chronicles: 

(I wrote this review in January and totally forgot to post it... Whoops!) When I was 13 and heard that The Spiderwick Chronicles were being made in a film, I basically dragged my parents to the bookstore and begged them to buy me the boxset... and you know what? I never even bloody read them! That all changed last week when I decided to binge read the series. If I could kick my 13 year old self right now, I totally would. I know that the books are designed for primary/elementary aged children, but who doesn't enjoy immersing themselves into a world of children's fiction every now and again...? So that's what I decided to do.

The box set (which includes The Field Guide (#1), The Seeing Stone (#2), Lucinda's Secret (#3), The Ironwood Tree (#4), and The Wrath of Mulgarath (#5)) is firstly, beautifully designed. Each cover has been so well taken care off, some of the art is glossy, other parts are matte. The entire set is 571 pages, which isn't usually what I'd binge read, my binge reads are usually books of less than 300 pages but I literally couldn't stop reading them, and that's not just because of cliffhangers.

Each of the books are extremely fast paced, if a YA book or an adult's fantasy novel was this quickly paced, I wouldn't really know what to do with it, but because it was aimed for such young children I can definitely see the need for something to be always happening. Even though I wasn't exactly used to books paced this way, it actually made me get through them faster and the "just one more chapter" phrase was pulled out a lot. While reading the series, I was curious about how long it would actually take me to read all five, and the answer is 3-4 hours, which makes them easy and great reads!

Let's talk artwork, because the art in these books definitely deserve more than just a one sentence mention, that's for sure. At the beginning of every book there was a full art-print page illustration that was featured somewhere within the story. My personal favourite will be shown below, but seriously, those alone made me want to dive into the books. Throughout the chapters were full page drawings and quarter page sketches which really made you feel involved in the world of Faeries and would certainly help children imagine the story a bit better.

What I loved about The Spiderwick Chronicles was that the language wasn't entirely taken down for the targeted readers, often I'll be reading a children's book and google the target age and the language is completely dumbed down unnecessarily. There's nothing wrong with having to have a dictionary next to you while you read, asking an adult, or, you know, Google. Also, I found that at the end of each book I was torn between continuing to read or just waiting till I'd refilled my cup of tea and found I was quite at a battle with myself. It's definitely a set of books that kids could read all in one go or between other books.

Growing up, I did enjoy the film, which is all five books in one. But while reading the books I kept thinking "Oh my goodness, why wasn't this in the film??!! It's so cool!" a million times, so as usual, the books were better.

I definitely think that it's a series that adults would enjoy, whether it's reading them to your kids or reading them by yourself, the story is lovely and very interesting. I'm a huge lover of fantasy so anything I can get my hands on that involves faeries, elves, unicorns, trolls, etc is amazing. I even found myself creeped out by some of the creatures and some of the things that happened, which is always a bonus!

While researching the authors for this review I found that there's also a "Beyond The Spiderwick Chronicles" trilogy which I may or may not have ordered immediately. There's also a fieldguide that you can buy that I can't wait to get my hands on!

I know, I know. It seems strange to talk so highly of middle-grade books, but look at Harry Potter! These are a set of books that I'll be recommending to everyone I possibly can no matter what the age. I gave the entire series 4 out of 5 stars (★★★★☆)

Where you can find the books:

Book Depository // Booktopia (Australia + NZ only) // Amazon US // Amazon UK // Mighty Ape (NZ only)

About Holly Black:

Holly Black is a best-selling author of contemporary fantasy novels for kids, teens, and adults. She is the author of the Modern Faerie Tale series (Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside), The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), and The Good Neighbors graphic novels (with Ted Naifeh) The Poison Eaters and Other Stories, a collection of short fiction, and The Curse Worker series (White Cat, Red Glove, and Black Heart). She is also the co-editor of three anthologies, Geektastic (with Cecil Castellucci), Zombies vs. Unicorns (with Justine Larbalestier), and Welcome to Bordertown (with Ellen Kushner). Her most recent works are the middle grade novel, Doll Bones, and the dark fantasy stand-alone, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.

She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, Theo, in a house with a secret library.

Where you can find Holly Black:

Website // Facebook // Twitter // Pinterest // Tumblr

About Tony DiTerlizzi: 

New York Times bestselling author and illustrator, Tony DiTerlizzi, has been creating books for over a decade. From his fanciful picture books like "Jimmy Zangwow’s Moon Pie Adventure", "Ted" and "The Spider & The Fly" (a Caldecott Honor book), to chapter books like "Kenny and The Dragon" and the WondLa trilogy, Tony always imbues his stories with a rich imagination. With Holly Black, he created the middle-grade series, The Spiderwick Chronicles, which has sold millions of copies, been adapted into a feature film, and has been translated in over thirty countries. In 2014, he teamed up with Lucasfilm to retell the original Star Wars trilogy in a picture book featuring artwork by Academy award-winning concept artist, Ralph McQuarrie.

Where you can find Tony DiTerlizzi:

Website // YouTube // Twitter // Facebook

I hope that you enjoyed this review of The Spiderwick Chronicles box set as much as I loved writing it! Have you read these books? Let me know what you thought in the comments below!

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